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PAGE v. SHELBY

March 4, 1998

DOUGLAS R. PAGE, Plaintiff
v.
RICHARD SHELBY, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

 In this action, plaintiff has sued 105 individuals comprising the entire membership of the United States Senate, the Secretary of the Senate, the Senate's Sergeant at Arms, and the Parliamentarian of the Senate (collectively, the "Senate defendants") plus the Secretary of the Treasury and the Treasurer of the United States ("defendants Rubin and Withrow"). Presently before the Court are the Motion of Senate Defendants to Dismiss and defendants Rubin and Withrows' Motion to Dismiss. Because the Court finds that plaintiff Page lacks standing to raise his challenge to Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate (the "cloture rule"), both motions will be granted.

 I. Background

 This is the second time Mr. Page has sued the United States Senators in this Court seeking to have the Senate's cloture rule declared unconstitutional. See Page v. Dole, Civ. Action No. 93-1546 (JHG) (D.D.C. Aug. 18, 1994), vacated as moot, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 15491, No. 94-5292, 1996 WL 310132 (D.C. Cir. May 13, 1996) (per curiam), dismissed on remand (D.D.C. Sept. 9, 1996). Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the "cloture rule," provides that:

 
. . . at any time a motion signed by sixteen Senators, to bring to a close the debate upon any measure, motion, other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, is presented to the Senate, the Presiding Officer, or clerk at the direction of the Presiding Officer, shall at once state the motion to the Senate, and one hour after the Senate meets on the following calendar day but one, he shall lay the motion before the Senate and direct that the clerk call the roll, and upon the ascertainment that a quorum is present, the Presiding Officer shall, without debate, submit to the Senate by a yea-and-nay vote the question:
 
"Is the sense of the Senate that the debate shall be brought to a close?"

 Standing Rules of the Senate Rule XXII § 2. In short, the rule requires that three-fifths, or 60, Senators vote to limit the time for debate on a pending matter ("invoking cloture"), notwithstanding the traditional right of each senator to speak on an issue for as long as he or she chooses. *fn1"

 In his previous action challenging this rule (referred to by Fisk & Chemerinsky, see supra note 1, as ". . . the only known lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the filibuster . . ."), Mr. Page, "a registered Democrat," claimed that the Senate Republican minority had denied him equal protection of the laws by voting in April 1993 against closing debate "for the sale [sic] purpose of preventing enactment of President Clinton's 'Economic Stimulus Package' which had been passed by a majority of the House of Representatives, was desired by the President, and was supported by at least a simply [sic] majority of the Senators." First Amended Compl., Page v. Dole, Civ. Action No. 93-1546 (JHG) (Oct. 15, 1993). In addition, he claimed that the Republican minority's repeated threats "to filibuster again so as to prevent enactment of or seriously weaken tax, health, and campaign finance legislation" similarly frustrated the majority will of the sovereign people and diluted the power of his vote. Id.

 After full briefing by all parties, this Court dismissed Mr. Page's first suit on the ground that he lacked standing to challenge Senate Rule XXII. See Mem. Op. and Order, Civ. Action No. 93-1546 (JHG) (D.D.C. Aug. 18, 1994), vacated as moot, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 15491, 1996 WL 310132 (D.C. Cir. May 13, 1996). Specifically, this Court found that Mr. Page failed to show that he personally suffered or would suffer actual injury, id. at 9; that he failed to demonstrate causal connection between his alleged injury and Rule XXII, id. at 11; and that it was unlikely that any injury would be redressed by a ruling in his favor, id. at 17. Mr. Page appealed that ruling. However, during the pendency of his appeal, Republicans became the majority party in the Senate. Accordingly, because "his complaint was framed in terms of a dilution of the Democratic majority's vote by the Republican minority's use of Senate Rule XXII [and] . . . the Senate no longer has a Democratic majority," the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered that the complaint be dismissed as moot. Page v. Dole, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 15491, 1996 WL 310132 (D.C. Cir. May 13, 1996).

 Mr. Page's complaint in the current action overcomes the mootness problem of his previous suit by framing his argument more generally so that it does not depend upon a particular party holding a majority of the seats in the Senate. He now alleges that "Senate Rule XXII unconstitutionally dilutes PAGE'S voting power" because if he "votes for Democratic Senators, 41 Republican Senators can and do obstruct law making by a simple majority" and if he "votes for Republican Senators, 41 Democratic Senators can and do obstruct the constitutional law making process by a simple majority." Compl. P8. He further complains that "no matter how PAGE votes, a mix of 41 Republican and Democratic Senators from the least populous States, can and do obstruct federal law making by a simple majority of a quorum, by utilizing Senate Rule XXII." Id. At bottom, Mr. Page is distressed by the fact that 41 Senators voting against cloture can "obstruct a vote on the merits, [and thereby] unconstitutionally dilute Page's voting power and deprive Page of the Constitutional right to be governed by some simple majority of a quorum in the Senate." Id. at P9.

 II. Discussion

 The Senate defendants' advance four reasons why this Court should grant their motion to dismiss: (1) Mr. Page lacks standing to raise this issue; (2) the Speech or Debate Clause bars suits such as this one; (3) the issue Mr. Page raises is nonjusticiable; and (4) the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In their motion, defendants Rubin and Withrow likewise argue that Mr. ...


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